Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lessons from the Garden - Coming Up from the Roots

Gardening can teach us many lessons. One of those lessons is resilience. Many plants have the amazing property of coming back from their roots after significant damage. I remember when I was a junior in high school many years ago. One of our neighbors had a maple tree growing in their back yard. I took some of the many seeds from that tree that year and planted six of them in a dirt patch in our back yard. Two of them came up. While they were both quite small, my dad did not see them one weekend and mowed over them. I was quite upset (not thinking that I should have marked them off so dad would clearly see them), and I left them in the ground, despite an impulse to just pull them up. Much to my surprise, they came back from the roots. Both those trees are now in the front yard of my parents' house with double trunks, a visual reminder of that earlier trauma to them which they overcame by regenerating from their roots.

I recently had a repeat of that experience. I have a couple of bronze fennel plants in my garden, and a third one came up outside of the border, in the grass, by our porch. I never told my wife about this plant, never put some border or markings around it, and, sure enough, she mowed over it. I left it in the ground, and, sure enough, it came back from the roots.

These plants can teach us the importance of going back to our roots after a trauma, after a devastating loss. If we are rooted in God, if we go back to the roots of our faith in the Scripture and the teachings of the Church, then we can begin again with new life. I remember when I returned to the Church but still struggled with my faith (not that we ever fully complete struggling in our faith life until we no longer need faith in the company of God). I made my first confession in probably thirteen years, and my confession was that I didn't know if I believed in God. The priest, a wonderful Franciscan, asked me if I wanted to believe in God. I said I didn't know. He did not need to absolve me, but he did, sensing something moving in me that I didn't understand. We were going to mass the next day, and he asked me to really reflect on the Creed when we said it. I was thinking, "But this is my point, I don't believe everything in the Creed." However, he understood that reflecting on the Creed is about going back to our communal and personal roots. The Creed is the foundational statement of what we believe, or at least what we ought to believe. The Creed is what the godparents assent to for the infant at Baptism, and the Creed is what the congregation reaffirms when a child is baptized at a mass. When we struggle in our faith or morals in our lives, we go back to the grace of the Holy Spirit from our Baptism and Confirmation for the strength to overcome those struggles.

If we go back to our roots, we can find the resources to restore the life we had, or perhaps live life more abundantly than before.


the booklady said...

What a beautifully-written, heartfelt post Pete! I stopped by because it's the Feast of Corpus Christi and I thought I should wish you -- and your blog -- Happy Feast Day!

What a nice treat to discover this incredible gem of a piece. I think it's your best ever.

Sorry I've been a stranger. The job of DRE is very demanding.

Many prayers and blessings to you and yours!

Pete Caccavari said...

Thank you, Booklady. I really appreciate your comments. I hope you had a moving Corpus Christi. And thank you for your work as a DRE. That is such an important role, and a very, very challenging one. I will keep you and your work in my prayers.